Wind Power from the Gobi Desert

Since last year’s nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan has established the legal frameworks for an accelerated domestic transition to renewables as an alternative to nuclear power.

The DESERTEC Foundation and the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation (JREF) are working together towards an alternative that will bolster Japan’s transition to clean, affordable and reliable sources of clean power: a high-voltage direct-current super grid to supply the whole of Asia with renewable energy.

Today, Japanese Softbank Corp., led by billionaire and JREF founder Masayoshi Son, takes the first step in the implementation of the so-called “Asian Super Grid”.

By the end of the year, SB Energy Corp., the renewable energy division of Softbank, will identify the site for a wind farm in the Gobi Desert in cooperation with the Mongolian company Newcom LLC.

This first wind farm of up to 300 MW could become operational as early as 2014 – feasibility studies for three more sites in Mongolian parts of the Gobi are planned. Taken together they could result in desert wind farms with a total capacity of 7,000 megawatts.

Renewable energy resources in remote areas of Asia such as the Gobi desert are abundant. The “Asian Super Grid” would transport these to the population centers of the region by interlinking national electricity grids from Japan, Korea, China, Mongolia and Russia, through low-loss high-voltage direct current transmission lines.

The DESERTEC Foundation has already conducted an initial feasibility study into possible corridors for transmission lines that will allow the harnessing of the renewable energy potential of the Gobi desert. DESERTEC Foundation Director Dr. Thiemo Gropp sees such a network as an “important step towards implementation of the DESERTEC Concept in East Asia”.